Ray Rivlin (nee Rachel Leah Factor) was born in Dublin but spent much of her early years in Belfast. Educated at Methodist College, she went on to Queen’s University where she graduated with a degree in Modern and Economic History and a post-graduate Diploma in Education. She taught in Belfast until her marriage and move to Dublin in 1961. She was a talented educator and author. Her eldest son Alan was the inspiration for her first book. A Boy Called Alan (1974) chronicled the extensive home therapy carried out by the Rivlins for their son who had brain damage. The book was serialised in the Irish Press and was ground-breaking in bringing the care and treatment of special needs children to light.
As a teacher, Ray wrote four textbooks in the early 1980’s designed for easy access to the Junior cycle curriculum for students with learning disabilities. Ray studied for a Master’s degree in Education which she received from UCD in 1993.
She wrote tirelessly for many years for the junior section of Mishpacha, a Jewish family magazine published in Israel. Her works include stories, poems, plays and articles for children. Her collection of stories Shu and You are extremely popular in Israel and America. She also completed The Concise Haggadah a simplified version of a Haggadah for use on Passover for those unable to sit through the usual seder.
Ray is perhaps best known in Ireland for her massive work on the social history of the Irish Jewish community which was published as Shalom Ireland in 2003 and later as Jewish Ireland in 2011. She undertook extensive research to outline the history of Jews in Ireland from the mid 1800’s to the present. Her account is brimming with important facts and interesting details. Packed with humourous anecdotes, it gives a rich insightful account of the Jewish community of Ireland.
At the time of her death, Ray was working on an autobiography, the fruits of which we hope we can look forward to seeing in the future. She kindly donated her papers to the Irish Jewish Museum.